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Amazon, one of the biggest employers in the world, has been accused of writing fake reviews of their working conditions on social media. Amazon has faced repeated allegations over poor working conditions in its warehouses. There have been investigations into the conditions by journalists around the world. Amazon has quickly gained a reputation for bad practices in their warehouses. There have been reports of workers being unable to use the bathroom, hundreds of ambulance call-outs to Amazon warehouses and pregnant employees being forced to stand for hours on end. One report even consisted of an Amazon worker suffering a miscarriage at work and being made to take the bus home.

Amazon warehouses have become synonymous with bad working environments. One British politician likened the warehouses to 19th-century mills, places infamous for injuries, deaths and horrible working conditions. There have been calls around the world for Amazon to improve their working conditions but little seems to have been done.

Amazon has now been accused of writing fake reviews of their working conditions on Twitter. There are Twitter accounts of so-called “Amazon ambassadors”, accounts allegedly run by Amazon employees who represent the company in a positive light on social media. They often reply to negative news stories or tweets about Amazon working conditions and say how great the company is to work for.

The accounts have been treated with a degree of scepticism since their introduction in 2018, however, this increased substantially when some Twitter users set out to prove the accounts are fake. One of the accounts, which belongs to a young man named Rafael, featured a tweet from 2018 which users found during their search. The tweet states, “So excited for Amazon Family Day at my site this weekend. I can’t wait to bring the grandkids by for a visit, so they can see their Nana at work. Bonus, I also get the day off that day. Yipee!!”

The discrepancy between the supposed user of the account and the content of the tweet has led to users accusing the Amazon ambassador accounts of being run by robots. The use of the Amazon ambassador accounts seems to have backfired. Rather than promote Amazon as having good working conditions, they seem to have reminded people of the terrible practices in Amazon warehouses.

Difficult words

Warehouse (n): A large building where many items are kept.

Ambulance (n): A vehicle used to take emergency patients to a hospital.

Miscarriage (n): When a pregnancy does not completely develop.

Synonymous (adj): Two words having the same meaning.

Mill (n): A building equipped with machinery for grinding grain.

Infamous (adj): Well known for bad quality.

Allegedly (adv): For something to be claimed but not proved.

Scepticism (n): The action of having doubt.

Discrepancy (n): When something is illogical because the facts do not match.

Backfire (v): When something has the opposite outcome than intended.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: Coming Soon!

Match the Synonym!

1. Warehouse A. Same
2. Ambulance B. Doubt
3. Miscarriage C. Supposedly
4. Synonymous D. Opposite effect.
5. Mill E. Storage building.
6. Allegedly F. Inconsistent
7. Scepticism G. Emergency vehicle.
8. Discrepancy H. Grain factory.
9. Backfire I. Losing a baby.

True or False?

1. Amazon is one of the smallest employers in the world. T / F

2. Amazon has been praised for posting authentic reviews. T / F

3. Amazon’s warehouses have faced criticism. T / F

4. Journalists have avoided investigating Amazon. T / F

5. Some workers have reported being unable to use the bathroom. T / F

6. Some politicians have likened the warehouses to working in modern-day offices. T / F

7. Amazon has been accused of using robots to write reviews. T / F

8. Amazon’s ambassador accounts have backfired. T / F

9. The tweet stated a grandfather was happy to have his grandkids at work. T / F

10. The twitter account belonged to a man named Raphael. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. working conditions / repeated allegations / over / poor / faced / Amazon / has

2. been / investigations / There / have / the / conditions / into

3. gained / quickly / for / has / reputation / Amazon / a / bad practices

4. world / the / been / around / There / have / calls

5. scepticism / a / been / The accounts / of / treated / with / degree / have

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: Coming Soon!

Investigations Negative Grandkids
Warehouses Miscarriage Employers
Accused Ambassador Fake

Amazon, one of the biggest (1)____________ in the world, has been accused of writing fake reviews of their working conditions on social media. Amazon has faced repeated allegations over poor working conditions in its warehouses. There have been (2)___________________ into the conditions by journalists around the world. Amazon has quickly gained a reputation for bad practices in their warehouses. There have been reports of workers being unable to use the bathroom, hundreds of ambulance call-outs to Amazon warehouses and pregnant employees being forced to stand for hours on end. One report even consisted of an Amazon worker suffering a (3)_______________ at work and being made to take the bus home.

Amazon (4)________________ have become synonymous with bad working environments. One British politician likened the warehouses to 19th-century mills, places infamous for injuries, deaths and horrible working conditions. There have been calls around the world for Amazon to improve their working conditions but little seems to have been done.

Amazon has now been (5)__________ of writing fake reviews of their working conditions on Twitter. There are Twitter accounts of so-called “Amazon ambassadors”, accounts allegedly run by Amazon employees who represent the company in a positive light on social media. They often reply to (6)______________ news stories or tweets about Amazon working conditions and say how great the company is to work for.

The accounts have been treated with a degree of scepticism since their introduction in 2018, however, this increased substantially when some Twitter users set out to prove the accounts are (7)________. One of the accounts, which belongs to a young man named Rafael, featured a tweet from 2018 which users found during their search. The tweet states, “So excited for Amazon Family Day at my site this weekend. I can’t wait to bring the (8)________________ by for a visit, so they can see their Nana at work. Bonus, I also get the day off that day. Yipee!!”

The discrepancy between the supposed user of the account and the content of the tweet has led to users accusing the Amazon (9)______________ accounts of being run by robots. The use of the Amazon ambassador accounts seems to have backfired. Rather than promote Amazon as having good working conditions, they seem to have reminded people of the terrible practices in Amazon warehouses.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Is Amazon popular in your country?
5. What are regular working conditions like in your country?
6. Do the Amazon ambassadors help Amazon’s situation?
7. What kind of job do people want to get in your country?
8. Who is the biggest employer in your country?
9. What do you know about the working conditions in Amazon warehouses?
10. Have you ever experienced bad working conditions? If so, what?
11. Do you think fake accounts on social media are a problem?
12. Should there be rules for what companies are allowed to post on social media?
13. Should governments force companies to improve working conditions?
14. Are there limits to what governments should be allowed to force companies to do?
15. Are workers’ unions popular in your country?
16. Do politicians support workers in your country?
17. What are the unemployment levels like in your country?
18. Is your country a good place for small businesses?
19. What is the biggest problem for workers in your country?
20. Should Jeff Bezos be punished for the working conditions at Amazon?